Personal Finance Tips Weekly

– One thing that’s been true for time immemorial is that at some point, you will most likely be a harried member of the sandwich generation. This is the time in your life when you’re caring not only for children, but also for aging parents and maybe even grandparents, as well. It also happens to be the time in your life for peak career growth and earning potential. No big deal. So, what should you be watching out for financially during this time? First, I can’t stress this enough, get life insurance. If you’re the glue holding everything together, at least get enough term coverage that your income can be replaced.

And even if you don’t have an income, you should still have insurance. At the very least, your family will need to pay people to help take on your responsibilities. Have a will; again, should something happen to you prematurely, you want to have already planned for happens to your kids and your estate. Look into your parents’ or grandparents’ financial health and preparedness. Now, this one’s not easy, but imagine the relief if you knew that your father-in-law had prepaid funeral expenses and estate taxes, and had a long list of instructions to follow in his top drawer.

Now, if things aren’t in order, your focus should be on ensuring your parents or grandparents have a sustainable income for their retirement. And look into solutions to paying for longterm care. If you haven’t already, set up an education fund for your children. Now, the need for this will be very different depending on what country you’re in. So do the research now on what costs are projected to be in the years when your kids will go on to higher education. Set up a direct deposit and consider asking friends and relatives to contribute to these funds in lieu of gifts.

Take care of your own financial health. Now, this one is hard. When you’re pulled in a million different directions, and your job seems to be keeping everyone else happy, think of this: This time will pass. You have this time to prepare for your own future. Don’t focus it all on keeping others happy while forgetting about yourself. And don’t leave money on the table by not taking advantage of tax-free retirement accounts and employer matches. Save for retirement, spend less than you earn, and don’t get into high-interest debt.

And invest, whether it’s in the property market, the stock market, or CDs. Put your money to work for you. You may think you don’t have enough money, but starting today is better than starting next year, and we all know how fast the years can go by. I hope that one day there’ll be much more transparency around money within families. And maybe the struggles of this sandwich generation will be a thing of the past. In the meanwhile, focus on yourself and your family. Do your best to help those above and below you on the generational ladder, and hopefully your sandwich years will be positive ones for you.